Thurston lauds Lockyer - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Thurston lauds Lockyer

By Wayne Heming 20/05/2011 06:44:36 PM Comments (0)

He's one of rugby league's best himself but Johnathan Thurston remains in awe of Darren Lockyer as the Queensland and Australian embarks on a farewell State of Origin series next week.

Retirement-bound Lockyer has not spoken to his players about winning a sixth straight Origin series to make sure he bows out a winner.

But Thurston says making sure Lockyer goes out on a high is in the back of every player's mind.

Thurston, who has been identified as a key dangerman by NSW coach Ricky Stuart, paid homage to Lockyer who on Wednesday night will draw level with former Maroon great Allan Langer (34) for the most Origin appearances.

Thurston has partnered Lockyer in the halves in 15 Origins for 10 wins and like everyone who has played alongside him finds it difficult to adequately describe the experience of having him around.

"I've played most of my rep footy with Locky outside me," said Thurston.

"It's about savouring the moment and making sure I do my job and can look him squarely in the eye at the end of the game."

Lockyer has won countless Origins for Queensland and Tests for Australia with his composure and ability to come up with a clutch plays.

Thurston, who revealed he almost walked away from rugby league to play rugby union on France after copping a hammering in the media earlier this year, said Lockyer had a special presence about him which made those around him feel comfortable.

"You know you're always in the game with him in your team no matter if the chips are down, you feel safe he's beside you because you know he can put on the play you need to get you back or win the game," Thurston said.

"He's just got that aura about him."

And Thurston wouldn't want anyone else beside him if the game is in the balance on Wednesday night.

"Swap him? No chance, not at all," he laughed.

"When you need a big play, he more than not comes up with it for us."

Lockyer's composure, brought about by a deep fear of losing, is unmatched.

"He never seems to get rattled whether you're down by 10 or 14 or in front by 10 or 14, he's always cool, calm and collected.

"It's a great trait. He never says much but when he talks everyone listens and what he says is straight to the core and exactly what we need to do.

"He's got a very smart football brain."

Thurston was unaware former NSW great Andrew Jones had been impersonating him at Blues training.

Johns has dissected video of Thurston's games and has been working with Stuart on ways to shut down the Queensland No.7.

"Obviously they've got a game plan there," said a relaxed Thurston.

"Was he (Johns) wearing the headgear?

"Obviously I'm in their eyes and in their thoughts and I suppose I have to be a bit smarter in the way I play."

The only series Thurston has lost as a player was in 2005 when Stuart, a champion halfback himself, was at the helm of the Blues.

"My first Origin defeat in 2005 I made a lot of tackles when Sticky (Stuart) was the coach and I'll be expecting more of the same medicine," he said.

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